Re-Thinking Economics Part 4

Mindfulness Through Worship

Whatever the feedback system is, human mind tend to tune out after a while — missing the important warning signal that need to be aware of. Stare at the radar screen for hours and soon you wouldn’t be able to separate friend from foe.

The same goes for the market, even though you are having clean signal in the form of profit and loss you still can’t catch the warning sign. It is human nature to forget after all.
Picture by Gaynor Barton

The basic way to gain mindfulness is to step back from whatever you are doing and see it with a fresh set of eyes. But it’s not an easy thing to do when you are absorbed fully engaged with the market. Even more so in the excitement of bull market.

Acts of worships in Islam ‘forces’ all to turn away from worldly affairs at set intervals and in various forms. Chiefly it’s the five daily prayers — Dawn, Noon, Afternoon, Dusk & Night. There’s a long stretch without obligatory prayers from dawn to noon. However, performing Dhuha (mid-morning) prayers are highly recommended.

On Friday, the noon prayer is longer with the inclusion of two khutbah (sermon) and all male are obliged to gather at the mosque. This prayer are not meant to be performed alone. Trade suspens a bit longer but people are commanded to spread upon the earth as soon as it ends.

Furthermore on Friday, Muslims are recommended to read Surah al-Kahf (Chapter 18) from the Quran. The chapter among others tell the story of men giving advice to his friend regarding going to the market after sleeping for 300 and 9 years. It also tell the story of the owner of beatiful orchard who lost it all after he still turned away from God despite the advice of his neighbour.

Annually, Ramadhan obligates every able men and women to fast from dawn to dusk for one month. All things that are usually lawful (eating, drinking, etc) are made unlawful during the days of Ramadhan. Some scholars said it is meant to made the rich empathize with the poor. But it is also can be understood as a way to rein consumption and making one realize they can actually make do with less.

In run up to Eidul Fitri, payment of zakat fitrah is due. Everyone have to give a certain amount of staple food. Be it wheat, barley, oat or rice according to where he happen to be at that time. The food or cash equivalent are meant for the poor and needy.

Eidul Adha several months later in Zulhijjah enjoins people to sacrifice livestock (cattle, sheep, camel, etc). Even better if they choose the best animal they have to be sacrificed. Compared to zakat fitrah, it is not an obligation to all but it is highly recommended to those who can afford it. Those who did the sacrifice are allowed to enjoy a portion of it and distribute the rest.

Meanwhile those who went for Hajj in Mecca find themselves in simple clothing (ihram) similar to everyone else regardless of economic status. At the peak of Hajj every pilgrim cram themselves in Arafah & Mina — staying in tents or out in the open.

Again and again we see a pattern which the acts of worship restricted consumption. Humans are constantly reminded that wealth are not ever rising and he actually need little to be sufficient.

In the next part we’ll look into historical figures in Islam in regard to economics and how it reflects Shariah-based economic system doctrine.